Dodgers vs. Rockies preview: Q&A with Bryan Kilpatrick of Purple Row

USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies are right in the midst of the tight NL West race at 3.5 games back, does Bryan Kilpatrick think Troy Tulowitzki and company will prevail?

Thanks very much to Bryan Kilpatrick of Purple Row for taking time to talk about the Rockies before their four-game series at Dodger stadium.

BEN: Who do you think the Rockies’ MVP and Cy Young are as of right now?

BRYAN: Carlos Gonzalez has to be the Rockies’ MVP candidate, although I almost certainly would have said Troy Tulowitzki before he was injured on June 13.

Gonzalez leads the Rockies in most offensive categories and is the one guy of their big four (Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer) who has avoided a stint on the disabled list.

Cuddyer deserves a mention here, mostly because he has been lights-out since Tulo went down. But, Gonzalez has to be the pick based on the number he’s put up.

Choosing the Rockies’ best pitcher is a tough call, but I’m going to go with Jorge De La Rosa. Like Gonzalez, De La Rosa is the only one of the Rockies’ top three starters to avoid a trip to the DL or the minors, and his 8-5 record and 3.19 ERA are nothing to scoff at.

De La Rosa has been effective because of his career-best walk rate. If he’s able to keep that down under 3.0 per nine innings, his success should continue – especially considering the fact that he still isn’t 100% healthy.

BEN: Where do you rank Carlos Gonzalez among the best outfielders in baseball and among the best overall players?

BRYAN: Gonzalez is infamously hurt by advanced defensive metrics, which in my opinion, have yet to be tweaked to take Coors Field’s massive outfield into proper context. Gonzalez is much better when using the eye test, and his arm is one of the best in the league for an outfielder. I’d say he’s certainly a top-five left fielder in baseball.

Prior to this season, Gonzalez couldn’t quite figure out how to translate his success at Coors Field in road games, but that has all changed in 2013. Gonzalez boasts a road line of .329/.379/.640 and has hit 13 of his 24 home runs away from Denver. If he continues to have that sort of success on the road while still mashing at home, the 27-year-old Gonzalez is easily a top-10 player in the game, if not higher.

BEN: All the spot light lately has been on the Dodgers Yasiel Puig, as he overshadows the brilliance of some other players. One of which: Michael Cuddyer. Do you think Cuddyer can keep it up? :

BRYAN: Cuddy’s not going to hit .340 all year, but he has a chance to hit .300 with 25-30 home runs if he stays healthy, and what’s not to like about that? Cuddyer is 34, so time isn’t really on his side, but I think he finishes out this season as a very productive middle-of-the-order bat and could carry that into next season, when he’ll be spending the majority of his time at first base.

His numbers won’t be as good in 2014, but he might just perform well enough the rest of this season and next season to where any animosity people had toward him regarding his contract will be a thing of the past.

BEN: Speaking of the famously-known “Wild Horse” (Puig), do you think he deserves to be an All-Star?

BRYAN: Absolutely. I don’t care that he’s only been in the big leagues for a little more than a month; he’s established himself as one of the best players in the game during that time, and he’s incredibly fun to watch. Why the hell not include him?

BEN: The Rockies are playing above expectations at 44-48 but I just don’t see enough quality pitching to win the NL West. Will they be actively looking for arms at the deadline?

BRYAN: Word is they had interest in Ricky Nolasco until he started struggling in late-June, at which point that interest quickly waned. Still, I think the club might be more active on the market than they usually are, and Roy Oswalt’s injury is a big reason for that. The club likely would have given him a few more starts to right the ship, which might have put the brakes on a potential move, but now Oswalt might miss significant time, which changes everything.

The team has been reluctant to move prospects in the past, and I wouldn’t personally be in love with them doing that this season in what I view as a bit of a “false contention” year. But, if the team truly thinks it can win a weak NL West in 2013, can anyone really blame them for going all-in? We’ll see what happens.

BEN: The entire Rockies team can’t fairly be evaluated without star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. When Tulo plays, the offensive output is obviously way better. He’s expected to come back this series, but can he finally stay healthy for the stretch run?

BRYAN: He’d better, or the Rockies are toast.

Tulowitzki, for some reason unbeknownst to me, is the target of a lot of vitriol from the Rockies fan base. Sure, the guy has proven to be injury-prone, but when he’s on the field, there are none better at his position, and I really don’t even think it’s close.

Can he stay healthy? Sure, of course he can. Tulo has gone many long stretches without being injured, although you’d never know it upon reading comments/tweets/other propaganda from Rockies fans. Will he stay healthy? I don’t think anyone knows.

BEN: Second baseman DJ LeMahieu continues to post solid numbers at .269, 11 RBI, 14 runs and 11 swipes (update accordingly). Will he lose significant at-bats due to Tulowitzki’s return? Or does manager Walt Weiss prefer LeMahieu over Josh Rutledge?

BRYAN: Neither player is truly adept at getting on base, but LeMahieu is a better defender than Rutledge and, at least to this point in this season, has shown he can hit with a little bit more consistency.

Rutledge is a candidate to be sent down once Tulowitzki and Fowler return from their rehab assignments, while I believe LeMahieu has earned his place on the roster for the time being. To me, DJ gets the nod, and I think Weiss would agree.

BEN: Nolan Arenado is one of the best young under-the-radar third baseman in the game. By the way, I’m still upset your Rockies stole him away from my Arizona State Sun Devils. Besides my temper tantrum, how high are your future expectations for Arenado?

Arenado has already established himself as an unbelievable third baseman at this level, but his bat still needs to come around. When he’s right, Arenado displays a quick stroke and can cover all fields. However, he’s been a bit pull-happy at times, resulting in a lot of weak contact. This day and age, a ton of weak contact isn’t necessarily better than the alternative, which is a little bit of really solid contact.

Arenado is going to have to work on his approach – mainly, his pitch selection and patience – to become what we all think he can become, which is a well-above-average regular.

BEN: Dexter Fowler rounds out Colorado’s extremely-talented outfield, and he seems to be the disregarded on because of the All-Stars to his left and right. In the beginning of the season, Fowler finally began to play up to his potential. However, he is currently on the DL with a wrist injury. How is Fowler’s recovery process going?

BRYAN: 2013 marks the second consecutive year that Fowler has experienced a blistering start to the season. Fowler slowed down considerably in May, but was picking things back up nicely in June before being hit with a pitch on June 13, the same day Tulowitzki suffered a broken rib. Fowler slumped badly from that point until when he finally went on the DL, but appears to be on track for a return later this week, along with Tulowitzki.

Both players are currently in their second day of rehab at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

BEN: Series Prediction?

BRYAN: Hoo boy, the Dodgers are certainly playing some good baseball right now. Yeesh. Well, it’s hard to predict this series given the pitching matchups are still largely up-in-the-air, but I don’t envision the Rockies winning more than one contest – especially if Tulowitzki and Fowler take a few games before they get settled in – regardless of who’s on the mound for either team.

So, I’ll go 3-1, Dodgers, knowing full-well that picking the Rockies to win even one game might a bit optimistic considering the different directions in which the teams are currently trending.

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